Saturday afternoon I did a yearly sweep of my accounts and downloaded all statements into categorized folders, archiving 2020 into one place. Among the records, I’ve got a record of all of our gas and electric bills from the day we bought the house until now, save a period from March 2010 to October 2013, because BG&E doesn’t save stuff that far back. In 2014 past I plotted our energy usage against the average temperature to see what the pattern was.

Looking back at that graph I realize now that I was plotting the wrong thing: I was interested in cost, which made sense back then, but because pricing fluctuates over time it wouldn’t tell the story I’m more interested in now—about any improvements made in insulation. This would be reflected in the total therms or KWh used, which BG&E helpfully includes on their statements (as well as the average monthly temperature). I dug up some further statements and spent a couple of hours plugging data into the old spreadsheet.

What I found was interesting. Apparently our gas usage has trended downwards by about 50 therms over 17 years, which means that some of the improvements I’ve made in this drafty sieve have made a difference. The scary revelation is that our energy usage has trended upwards dramatically by about 250KWh over that same time period—no doubt the spike in daily usage during 2020 did not help that average. But it tracks; there are three people in the house using appliances and devices and air conditioners instead of two, and we’ve added multiple rooms since 2003.

The big takeaway is that we’re still spending more in the winter to heat the house than we do in the summer to cool it, so my continual quest to insulate and weatherproof will continue. I think nine new windows for the upstairs rooms would help with the drafts as well as some other upgrades—I’m looking at you, front and back doors—and eventually a central air unit that would be four times as efficient as four old window units sucking dollars out of the house.

* * *

While we’re on the subject of drafty houses, Finley has been working from her fort while she’s in class. The high is around 48˚ and there’s no insulation out there, so I ran an extension cord from the garage and put my shop heater on a plank of wood to try to combat the cold. She used some Christmas money to buy a small laptop stand and a whiteboard at Target, and over the weekend went out to set things up. Back in the summer the neighbors gave us an old carpet which fit pretty well on the floor, so she’s not sitting on a bare wooden plank, but that’s it for amenities. I dusted off our old Airport base station, reset it for bridge mode, and tucked it up above the workbench in the basement. The new router sits in the living room roughly where the old one did, but if I draw a straight line from that to the fort there are two surfaces covered in aluminum siding in the way, which means the signal is shit out there. So the Airport should keep her Zoom game strong.

I’m a little wary of letting her work out there by herself, but we told her she could do it as long as her grades stayed up and her work got done. So we’ll see how things go.

Date posted: January 21, 2021 | Filed under finn, house | Leave a Comment »


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This still brings tears of pride to my eyes.

Date posted: January 20, 2021 | Filed under finn, politics | Leave a Comment »

Our long national nightmare is over. Let’s get to work.

Date posted: January 20, 2021 | Filed under politics | Leave a Comment »

Jen and I bought IKEA desk chairs about fifteen years ago (I’m almost positive this was pre-Finley), and we’ve certainly gotten our use out of them in 2020. There isn’t anything technically wrong with them, but my back has been complaining about sitting in mine for 8+ hours daily; there are several problems I’m seeing here. The first and most obvious I that I need to get up more and walk around daily. This is easier said than done some days—last Thursday I was on Zoom calls for six and a half hours straight, and my butt was fused to the fabric. The second is to upgrade my chair. I’m considering buying a used Mirra desk chair, of which there are hundreds available in the Baltimore-Washington metro area. I used a Mirra back at my previous gig and I really liked it—it’s essentially a second take on the Aeron design, where the seat is a mesh and the back can be either a plastic aerated shell or a padded surface. They are infinitely more adjustable than the IKEA chairs, which basically have a tilt and lumbar setting but nothing else. There’s a liquidator in Gaithersburg with a pile of them available, and I may very well be visiting him next weekend.

The next thing we need is a new bed for Finley, who has been sleeping on a bed we moved into this house with. She’s been complaining of aches and pains for the past six months, some of which are certainly due to growing pains, but are more likely due to that worn-out mess. Jen has been doing some research and it’s most likely we’ll have Costco deliver an upgrade shortly.

11:18 PM: The Ravens just shit all over themselves and let the Bills beat them 17-3. Apparently wind was a severe problem, Lamar Jackson threw a pick-six, and a total of three field goals were missed.

Date posted: January 16, 2021 | Filed under house, music | Leave a Comment »

We’re done with a giant push to get this year’s Big Presentation complete, as of this morning. My job has seen me in charge of many details and responsible for lots of things I never bargained for when I agreed to it: Today I was in Virginia doing tech support and tackling Golden Retrievers barking at a deliveryman while the CEO was live in front of 1200+ attendees. Other than that hiccup, everything seemed to go off without a hitch, and I was back at home by 12:30. I’m thankful for Martin Luther King day not only because of who the man was, but because I can use Monday to reclaim 5% of the holiday calm I had before returning to work.

The girls gave me a couple of masks for Christmas, which specifically have a firm metal band so that they mold around my giant crooked nose. My beef with all 700+ masks we have is that none of them keep condensation from forming on my glasses—but these fit perfectly. I wore my new mask to the Boss’ house knowing I’d be able to see what I was doing at all times, but didn’t realize it matched my shirt. I guess if I’m going to be coordinated, I might as well do it in front of the CEO.

I’m now 0 for 3 with waterproof boots. LL Bean sent me a brand new pair of Bean Boots which I ordered a 1/2 size smaller according to their recommendations. They’re a 10 but after trying them on I’d actually need a 9 which seems pretty ridiculous—and there’s no guarantee those wouldn’t fit like a pair of Finn’s baby shoes. At this point I’m trying to decide whether I want to exchange them or just go somewhere to try boots on and get something that fits the first time. I feel like I need to plant a couple of trees or maybe sell a car to offset all the carbon I’ve now burned in deliveries.

Date posted: January 14, 2021 | Filed under WRI | Leave a Comment »

Destroying planets and using fear of this battle station to keep the local systems in line was my No. 1 passion until — about 30 seconds ago, weirdly! That was when I saw the X-wings that had evaded our turbo-lasers and were proceeding down a trench toward our vulnerable thermal exhaust port — and realized I had to speak up. I thought: What if remorselessly destroying planets isn’t my passion? What if my real passion is staying alive and avoiding the consequences of my actions?

This is from a couple of days ago but I’ve been crashing on a big project at work, and it still makes me laugh.

Date posted: January 12, 2021 | Filed under humor, politics, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »


Looking out the window yesterday morning over coffee, I was amazed to see not one but three turkey buzzards perched on the fence overlooking the carcass while a murder of crows picked at it. One of the buzzards must have seen me because it flew up and perched on my neighbor’s garage and sat there preening. I texted him to apologize for the Wild Kingdom tableau between our yards and told him we were still waiting on Animal Services. He texted back and offered to take it to the dump in his pickup, which I hurriedly agreed to.


We wrapped it up in two layers of plastic and tied it off with some twine, then heaved it into the bed of his truck. It was beginning to get pretty ripe even though the temperature has been in the low 40s here, so I’m glad he offered. We threw a bunch of other trash on top of it and then hustled down to the dump, where they waved us in without a second look in the back.

There’s still a track of dried fluid running down the driveway and tufts of long hair floating around the yard, but it’s nice to have that gone for good. Meanwhile, the Christmas tree continues to sit on our front walk waiting for its date with the chipper.

Date posted: January 10, 2021 | Filed under life | Leave a Comment »

I haven’t written anything here about the events of the last 48 hours, probably because I’m still trying to process the footage of white supremacist insurrectionists invading the Capitol building holding a fucking confederate flag. If you’re a longtime reader of this here blog you know where my politics lie, but this shit goes beyond simple red-blue divisions. There was no plan, there was no endgame; these were people told to do something by a crackpot dictator who didn’t have the brains to understand what he was saying or the balls to own up to the damage he caused.

Meanwhile, the Capitol Police showed how white America gets to commit felonies on a live broadcast with absolutely no consequence while people of color routinely get rounded up in unmarked vans and teargassed for a photo opportunity. The cops knew this was coming for days and chose not to do anything about it. Black Lives Matter protestors got permits to assemble and were shot for exercising their constitutional rights. These maskless shitheads stormed a federal building, broke federal property, threatened state and federal legislators, and then got to walk back out the door and go home.

Nancy Pelosi is threatening impeachment if Trump doesn’t resign immediately. Twitter finally suspended his account, following Facebook, Twitch and Snapchat. Four years too late, you fuckwits. 

Trump’s cabinet is bailing out on him; they don’t even have the decency to go down with the ship they’ve been helping steer into the rocks. Eat a bag of dicks, you worthless shits. 

I want the new Attorney General to hit the ground running on Day 1 and prepare federal charges against Trump and his family. If Biden so much as whispers anything about not prosecuting him for all the obvious, illegal shit he’s pulled, my head is gonna explode. You have the house and senate, Joe. Grow a pair of fucking balls.

Date posted: January 8, 2021 | Filed under politics | Leave a Comment »

The President of the American Federation of Teachers issued a formal statement on Betsy DeVos’ resignation today.

Date posted: January 8, 2021 | Filed under politics, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

Day 3, and the deer carcass is still on our driveway. Well, it’s sort of off the driveway now; the critters have been actively gnawing on it for the past two days, and they have been moving it as they pick at it. First, our local fox started chewing on the hindquarters, and by yesterday morning the entire rear end was opened up. Then the crows started circling. At 3:30, there was a giant turkey buzzard hopping around and chewing on the neck where I’d separated the head. There are now several perched atop the church across the street, looking like the Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

Great tufts of hair are floating around the driveway and blowing up against the house, and there was a bit of a smell on the breeze when we took the dog for a walk this morning. People walking past the house stop and peer down the driveway, wondering if what they’re seeing is, in fact, a dead animal and not a butchered human corpse. There has been no sign of Animal Services either by text or in person, so now we’ve got a dried-out tree and a deer carcass out in front of the house. If I add a couch, some cinderblocks, and a couple of spare tires on the lawn, we’ll have the full Redneck Experience covered. Or, I could just pull the Scout out of the garage…

We overheard Finley gleefully mentioning both the dead deer and the fact that I’d chopped the head off to her entire class this morning. I’m sure her teacher has put us on a list of some kind, and Child Welfare is gonna be knocking on our door shortly.

* * *

I’m waiting on a third set of weatherproof boots to arrive. The first boots were too small; the second pair were too big (both made by Sperry—I followed Zappos’ sizing recommendations, so something is seriously fucked with their QA process). I punted and followed a sale LL Bean is currently running, opting for a set of 8″ Bean boots with Thinsulate and hoping they actually fucking fit. Bean’s sizing information is less than helpful; I’m just throwing darts at the wall to see if the size is correct. At this rate, I’ll have a set of waterproof boots just in time for summer vacation.

Date posted: January 8, 2021 | Filed under life | Leave a Comment »